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Rebels football loses grip, game to Heritage Christian

Football: Three first-half fumbles loom large during second half in which injuries, exhaustion limit Flintridge Prep.

September 08, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

NORTH HILLS — While the final 24 minutes were certainly grueling for both sides, the Flintridge Prep football team's nonleague contest at Heritage Christian on Saturday afternoon was essentially decided in the first half.

All the scoring in the 19-16 affair, won by the host Warriors to send the Rebels to an 0-2 start, was contained in a first half in which Prep at times looked poised to dominate the game with its physical advantage on the front line. But three lost Prep fumbles before halftime kept the game close and a quick 74-yard touchdown drive allowed Heritage Christian a go-ahead score with 1:01 left in the second quarter, which would stand as the game-winner.

"Three fumbles in the first [half], it's the same story as last week — we compete, but we're beating ourselves," said Prep Coach Antonio Harrison, whose team lost a two touchdown lead in the fourth quarter in losing its opener to Army-Navy the previous week. "We had this team on their heels, they couldn't stop the sweep."

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Stefan Smith rushed for 123 yards in 15 carries and had a 66-yard touchdown to lead the rushing attack for the Rebels, who also saw Kyle Hamane (67 yards in six carries) rush for a touchdown and a pair of two-point conversions. But as the oppressive heat and unforgiving artificial turf began to wear down the Rebels, fewer and fewer of their big guns were to be found on the field and it took its toll on the offense.

Smith and Hamane, along with running back Kurt Kozacik, all joined starting wideout Kareem Ismail, who hurt his ankle in the first half, on the bench for large parts of the second half, during which Prep mustered just 67 yards of total offense.

Heritage Christian (3-0) didn't have much more success sustaining its second-half drives, but did come up with a game-ending play on third and 15 to go with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Alex Alcala found tight end Andy Hoeks for an 18 yard gain to the Rebels' nine-yard line, where the Warriors were able to run out the clock.

"We've got four of our starters down because of dehydration and heat exhaustion," Harrison said. "If it was my call, we wouldn't play a single afternoon game, especially not on this turf stuff. But there's nothing we can do, they gotta come out and play and once we stop beating ourselves, we'll see a mark in the win column."

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